May 2008
Volume 49, Issue 13
ARVO Annual Meeting Abstract  |   May 2008
Low Vision Access to the Web via a Firefox Browser Extension
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • A. Arditi
    Arlene R Gordon Research Institute, Lighthouse International, New York, New York
  • J. Lu
    Arlene R Gordon Research Institute, Lighthouse International, New York, New York
  • Footnotes
    Commercial Relationships  A. Arditi, None; J. Lu, None.
  • Footnotes
    Support  NIH grants EY01592 and EY017583
Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science May 2008, Vol.49, 1513. doi:
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      A. Arditi, J. Lu; Low Vision Access to the Web via a Firefox Browser Extension. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2008;49(13):1513. doi:

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      © ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)

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Purpose: : The Internet and in particular the World Wide Web, are increasing availability of information for everyone with access to them, but they especially have the potential to improve the lives of persons with low vision, perhaps more than any other technological development in history. Accessible and convenient technology for those with moderate and severe low vision.has remained problematic. Those users must rely on specially authored web sites or on expensive, platform-specific, and non-portable software solutions. We have developed browser extension technology for the Mozilla Firefox browser (eventually to be ported to Internet Explorer as well) specifically designed for users with low vision to access differently authored web pages in a consistent way.

Methods: : Our software utilizes a transcoding design that intercepts web page markup documents on input to the browser’s rendering engine, analyzes it, alters it, and then re-renders it in two distinct frames: a top frame for reading, and a bottom "global" frame for navigating and appreciating global layout. When the (large) cursor hovers over text in the global frame, that text is displayed in the reading frame (which supports hyperlinks), at a single format tailored to the user’s needs. If the text string is too long to fit within a single line of the reading frame, the string is broken, and successive portions of the string are elicited, by means of the down-arrow key press, so that the reader can key through the entire screen at his or her own pace, a practice that has been shown to enhance reading performance with sequential word presentation.The size, background and all aspects of typography and color contrast of the text in the reading frame are configurable. In general, once the user has found optimal settings such as font color, font size, font style and background color, they will likely use them to read all web content, so persistent storage of user settings is supported. Embedded images may also be selected and magnified.

Results: : The browser extension is open source, free, and has a very simple and intuitive user interface. It can be installed on a memory stick, or downloaded and installed on demand from any location.

Conclusions: : Our software, called LowBrowseTM, provides no-cost, portable access to the web for all users with low vision.

Keywords: low vision • reading • aging: visual performance 

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